Essential workers return early to Yellowknife to prepare for the return of wildfire evacuees

Yellowknife officials, along with Northwest Territories personnel, are preparing for the start of a ma*s migration of wildfire evacuees, which is still on track for Wednesday.

Yellowknife City Manager Sheila Ba*si-Kellett said workers at grocery stores, pharmacies, home heating providers and even some taxi and daycare drivers were on their way back to the city by September 6 – date announced last week for the lifting of the evacuation order when all residents of the city will be allowed to return.

“At a very, very high level – a level of 30,000 feet – I would say that there is a third of our evacuees coming back before our overall evacuation order is lifted,” Ba*si-Kellett said during the interview. an online press conference on Monday afternoon.

Jeffrey Edison, acting a*sistant deputy minister at the Department of Infrastructure, said other essential workers returning home early include city airport staff, such as baggage handlers, who will be there for flights. which will bring the evacuees home.

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“It’s not who you are that matters, it’s basically what positions you hold,” Edison said at the press conference of who is allowed to go home early.

Jay Boast, chief information officer for the Northwest Territories Emergency Management Organization, said more than 2,000 people have pre-registered for a flight home, following a call to do so on Saturday so that the territory knows how many flights it will need.

Boast noted Sunday that due to low pre-registration numbers in Winnipeg and Whitehorse, only one flight from each of those cities will be scheduled, which will depart Thursday. If you’re there and haven’t pre-registered, it told you to register now.

For returnees who will be driving home, Boast said the territory is preparing for the expected influx of traffic on Highway 1 into Yellowknife, including security checkpoints to prevent access to Enterprise, a hamlet where community leaders said 80 percent of homes and businesses were destroyed. by the flames.

Wednesday’s date for lifting the general evacuation order from Yellowknife depends on fires and road conditions, but Northwest Territories wildfire information officer Mike Westwick said Monday that no problems were expected on Highway 1 over the next few days.

He reminded people to go home carefully.

“Their biggest danger on their job site is your vehicle,” he said.

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The evacuation order for Yellowknife and the neighboring First Nations communities of Ndilo and Dettah was issued on August 16.

Anyone not on the list of essential workers who have been asked to return now has been warned not to attempt to return sooner, although the RCMP say they have not had to turn anyone away and no arrests had been made under the Emergency Management Act. .

However, some evacuees from seven Calgary hotels are already on the move after being told over the weekend that their rooms would no longer be available.

At Monday’s press conference, officials said Calgary officials were working to find alternate accommodations for the evacuees.

Residents have already been advised that they should prepare to be self-sufficient for 72 hours upon their return.

Ba*si-Kellett noted that the city is preparing to accommodate people who take three weeks’ worth of food out of their refrigerators.

“We are ready to implement this by giving instructions to people on how they can bring this waste to the solid waste facility. We will organize amnesty days for household waste so that people can clean up and put their homes back to the state they should be,” she said.

&copy 2023 The Canadian Press

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